ACCA SA is ready to show what it’s capable of with its new IRBA accreditation status

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ACCA’s Portia Mkhabela unpacks how the accreditation will help to open up the audit profession.

It’s a new dawn for The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) South Africa, which will be able to provide members with the opportunity to register for the Audit Development Programme (ADP) starting from 1 April 2024.

“This development is more than a formality for ACCA but a symbol of progression, alignment and an opportunity for those who seek to follow the audit route,” says Portia Mkhabela, market head for ACCA South Africa, Botswana and remotely managed markets.

The International Board for Auditors (IRBA) announced on 6 July that that ACCA would become part of the accredited professional accounting bodies providing the audit specialisation programme in the country.

“This accreditation opens up so many opportunities for the audit industry, current and future members and will help us grow the profession as a whole for those in pursuit of new professional heights,” adds Portia.

On successful completion of the ADP, these candidate auditors may be eligible for registration as registered auditors (RAs).

Removing artificial barriers

She explains that IRBA’s recent mandate changes helped to remove some of the artificial barriers that are preventing people from accessing the profession.

“One of our goals at ACCA is to remove these barriers and to ensure that we find innovative ways to provide more opportunities to people who never thought they could practise as auditors.”

It is because of these recent changes that ACCA decided to reapply for accreditation, 24 years later. “This is a result of years of mediation between the regulatory parties involved, so it’s an exciting ‘conclusion’ for us, that will see us into a new future of audit,” Portia says.

She emphasises that they don’t take the hard work IRBA and the accreditation committees have put into this for granted.

The process to accredit and monitor professional bodies is executed through the IRBA Accreditation Model, which stipulates the specified requirements for accreditation and the competency framework, ensuring consistency in the development of competencies for registered auditors in South Africa.

IRBA CEO Imre Nagy said in an announcement that initial feedback from stakeholder engagements around the process has been positive, and has acknowledged the need for multiple professional bodies to broaden the pipeline for students and trainees to enter the audit profession.

Unfolding the horizon

There are a few things that still need to happen for ACCA to prepare for their ready date in April, including engaging with all stakeholders to train them on the technical requirements around the accreditation.

“We’re exploring partnership opportunities with companies that will take students under their guidance and help them go through the ADP programme. We’re also looking at capacitating the institutions of higher learning to embed the ACCA qualification,” Portia explains.

She adds that it’s time for ACCA to showcase what it is capable of, going beyond just accounting.

In its State of the Profession (SOP) in Africa report, ACCA (together with the Pan African Federation of Accountants and PwC) revealed that there is a major concern about skills shortages in the accounting industry, especially in the areas of technology and strategy.

With its accreditation, the association hopes to address some of these skills shortages. “It has given us the perfect opportunity to review some of our modules to ensure that they speak to these challenges.”

The SOP also highlighted that the audit expectation gap appears to be widening as the business environment becomes increasingly sophisticated and globalised.

More than half of the respondents believe that the main source of the audit expectation gap is the public’s misunderstanding of the auditor’s role. The second most significant reason is that auditors are becoming more familiar with the management of the organisations they audit – creating a loss of independence.

However, Portia believes it is ACCA’s responsibility now as an accredited institution to drive a new narrative for the industry and close that expectation gap.

“To our members, what you’ve been asking for is here. Let’s start driving a new audit culture!”

In 2021 and 2022, ACCA partnered with CFO South Africa to bring you a series of interviews that focuses on Audit Transformation and the Future of Audit, featuring experts in the industry. You can read all about it here.

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